This painting was originally known as ‘Highgate’ but is actually another view of East Bergholt Rectory, home of Dr Rhudde, grandfather of Constable's beloved Maria Bicknell.
Golding Constable’s ‘East Bergholt House’ is out of the picture at the right and the Rectory is hidden behind the trees on the left. The small valley and stream is that of the Ryber.
As a young boy, Constable would spend hours sketching clouds in what he referred to as his ‘Skying’ sessions, developing his skill became evident in his Study of ‘Clouds’ series, creating perfect cloud formation and sunlight and demonstrated in this piece.
Constable's lengthy courtship with Maria Bicknell from 1809 until their marriage in 1816 brought him back to East Bergholt more often. Their courtship was opposed by Maria’s grandfather, Dr Rhudde, Rector of East Bergholt, who considered the Constables his social inferiors and threatened Maria with disinheritance. Maria's father, Charles Bicknell, a solicitor to King George IV and the Admiralty was also reluctant to see Maria throw away her inheritance, and as Maria pointed out to John, a penniless marriage would detract from any chances he had of making a career in painting. So whilst Golding and Ann Constable approved of the match, they held out little prospect of supporting the marriage until John was financially secure.
Yale Centre for British Art